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Swiss government limits access to restaurants to Covid certificate holders

The COVID certificate is a way of documenting that you have been vaccinated against Covid-19, have had the disease or have a negative test result. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The Swiss government has decided to extend the use of the Covid certificates to indoor public spaces such as restaurants, culture events and leisure activities.

This content was published on September 8, 2021 - 16:53
swissinfo.ch/urs

The measure, which was widely expected and applies to individuals age 16 and over, will come into force next Monday until the end of January 2022.

The certificate may also be used by employers as part of a company’s protection plan or required by universities.

The governmentExternal link also imposed financial penalties for non-compliant guests and event organisers as well as the closure of establishments that refuse to implement the requirements.   

It is also considering the introduction of checks for people entering Switzerland and the recognition of Covid certificates for people vaccinated abroad.

The aim is to prevent overcapacities at hospitals, notably at intensive care units and prevent a temporary closure of shops and offices, as President and Economics Minister Guy Parmelin said.

"Experience clearly shows that vaccinations is preferable to any other preventive measure," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

The Swiss Covid-19 certificate provides proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result. A certificate requirement is already in place for nightclubs and large events.

Switzerland is being hit by a fourth wave of the new coronavirus. The virus situation remains tense with the number of new cases stagnating at a high level - 2,500-3,000 a day - according to health officials. Switzerland has the highest incidence rate in Europe, after Britain, with 402 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.

Presenting the details of the government measures, Interior Minister Alain Berset said the certificate was a tool which helps to reduce infections.

"It allows us to lead an almost 'normal' life under the circumstances," he said. "It protects our freedom because the other option is only another lockdown." 

Reaction

The president of the cantonal health directors, Lukas Engelberger, welcomed the wider use of the certificate, saying the new rules must be limited in time.

Echoing government ministers, he appealed on people to get the jabs and help end the crisis.

Most of the political parties and the leading Swiss Business Federation also came out in favour of the new measures, despite some reservations.

However, the Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, the restaurant sector and the right-wing Swiss People's Party dismissed it as inacceptable and called for financial compensation payments to make up for an expected drop in sales. 

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